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LinkedIn Explains Data Scraping Amid Reports of More Data Hacks and Breaches

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linkedin explains data scraping amid reports of more data hacks and breaches
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Over the past few months, there have been various reports of significant LinkedIn data hacks, with huge databases of user info being sold on the dark web, available to the highest bidder.

Back in April, Cyber News reported that personal data scraped from 500 million LinkedIn users was being made available for sale on various hacking forums, while just last month, another set, reportedly incorporating info from 700 million LinkedIn profiles, also became available online.

In each case, LinkedIn has denied that these indicate a breach of its security, instead pointing to ‘data scraping’ as the culprit, the (mostly legal) process of gathering publicly available info from platforms, at scale, in order to build larger data sets by incorporating that material with other sources.

As LinkedIn explained in response to the most recent reported leak:

Our teams have investigated a set of alleged LinkedIn data that has been posted for sale. We want to be clear that this is not a data breach and no private LinkedIn member data was exposed. Our initial investigation has found that this data was scraped from LinkedIn, and other various websites, and includes the same data reported earlier this year in our April 2021 scraping update.”

Yet, despite these explanations, a level of user angst remains. Which is why today, as part of its effort to provide more context on what’s actually occurred, and what it’s doing about it, LinkedIn has posted an overview of how data scraping works, and what users can do to better protect their LinkedIn profiles in future.

As per LinkedIn:

“Scraping has been around since the start of the internet, but it’s grown dramatically in scale and sophistication. Today, the scraping we hear most about is unauthorized scraping, which uses code and automated collection methods to make (up to) thousands of queries per second and evade technical blocks, in order to take data without permission. Scraped data can be gathered from multiple sites, combined, and sold in large batches, to be used for phishing and other campaigns designed to trick you into sharing private information.”

LinkedIn has been working to stop third parties from scraping its user data for years, even heading to the Supreme Court to stop one specific business from gathering public info from LinkedIn profiles for its own purposes. But that case, this far, has not gone in LinkedIn’s favor – so even if it wanted to block data scraping entirely, legally, it can’t, which, in some ways, limits its capacity for response.

A key consideration within this is how much data LinkedIn makes publicly available. LinkedIn could further limit the ways in which user info can be accessed, which would also limit scraping, but that would additionally reduce discovery in the app, in search engines, and via other means, which would restrict the broader utility of the platform.

For example, LinkedIn currently displays your name and job title for all searchers, unless you’ve made your profile private. That data is then accessible by search engines, which can help to boost discovery – so LinkedIn could further limit that, but if you ever want to be found for relevant searches, on and off platform, which is a key value proposition of the app, it needs to keep a level of that info accessible by users and search tools.

As such, in some ways, it’s stuck in between, as it works to manage how much profile data it makes publicly available, and how much it hides behind privacy settings. But within that, users do also have a choice as to how much of their personal info they make publicly accessible.

Spend some time looking at what info you’ve added, from contact details to work history, and get familiar with your settings. In addition, take a look at your public profile page, to understand what information might be public and ensure it’s exactly what you want to be viewable to search engines and other off-LinkedIn services. You can choose to limit or adjust choices if you’d like.”

LinkedIn does note that unauthorized data scraping is in breach of its terms of service, and that it has processes in place to detect, and protect, against such.

But even then, unauthorized scraping does not constitute a breach or a ‘hack’.

“Scraping does not mean an attacker has been able to get inside secure systems, subvert firewalls or access protected network information. Unauthorized scraping can mean that bad actors can collect a lot of data and use it in ways that you didn’t expect.”

LinkedIn uses bot detection tools and rate limits to restrict such activity, but the key point LinkedIn is seeking to highlight is that these reported breaches are not the result of hacking or data breaches, as such. Users can further limit their data to avoid concerns, but scraping, in some forms, will likely always exist.

LinkedIn is still pursuing a legal case against hiQ Labs over its use of LinkedIn member data, which could end up being a precedent-setting ruling that would give more power to platforms over data scraping. But the fact is that some data will always be publicly accessible, and when it is, third parties will look to use those sources to build databases that they can on-sell to marketing firms.

It’s an important technical distinction to note, and a good example of the evolving digital landscape, and how laws are still catching up in many respects.

But to be clear, these datasets are not a result of data hacking at LinkedIn, and you can limit your exposure via your own profile settings.

Socialmediatoday.com

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The North Face Delivered Jacket Via Helicopter After Viral TikTok Complaint

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The North Face Delivered Jacket Via Helicopter After Viral TikTok Complaint

  • Popular apparel brand The North Face posted a crazy marketing stunt on TikTok recently. 
  • In a video, they delivered a rain jacket to a woman at the top of a mountain in New Zealand via helicopter. 
  • The woman had complained in a viral TikTok that her waterproof jacket got soaked in the rain. 

The North Face pulled an elaborate marketing stunt on TikTok and delivered some rain gear via helicopter to a woman in New Zealand, whose complaint about the brand went viral on the platform. 

Jenn Jensen posted a TikTok video on November 17 showing herself on a hiking trail in the rain where she’s soaked whilst wearing a rain jacket sporting The North Face logo. 

“I’ve got a bone to pick with North Face,” Jensen says in the video which has racked up over 11 million views. “I bought this ‘rain jacket’ a couple of days ago and the tag for the advertising said that it’s waterproof. Well listen, I’m 100% sure that it’s raining outside and I’m soaking wet.” 

She added: “Listen… I don’t want a refund. I want you to redesign this rain coat to make it waterproof and express deliver it to the top of Hooker Valley Lake in New Zealand where I will be waiting.” 

She tagged The North Face’s TikTok page in her caption. In one comment a user named @timbrodini wrote: “*Northface has left the conversation.” 

The popular outdoor clothes brand made their own TikTok video in response to @timbrodini’s comment in which they said: “We were busy express delivering @Jenn her jacket at the top of mountain.”

In the TikTok video, a North Face employee can be seen grabbing a red jacket from one of its physical stores and then hopping onto a helicopter where he’s flown out to New Zealand. The man then jumps out of the helicopter at the top of the mountain and runs out to throw the jacket to Jensen who is waiting. 

She says “thank you” at the end of the video, which has also gone viral and gained 4.1 million views. 

Jensen then made a follow up video on her page explaining that The North Face’s marketing team saw her video and wanted to make “amends.” She said they flew her out by helicopter to the top of a mountain in New Zealand to give her new rain gear. 

“At this point the ultimate test will be if the new rain gear they gave me at the top of that mountain will hold up to the very high bar that North Face has now set for themselves,” she concluded at the end of the video. 

Some users speculated whether her original video was also a part of the marketing stunt but Jensen responded that she “turned down” the opportunity to be paid for the company’s follow up video. 

“I’m not an influencer, I was just a disappointed customer.” 

The marketing strategy appears to be a new way for brands to connect with customers by showing their care whilst also providing an entertaining video on social media. 

The North Face seems to be following the steps of the Stanley cup brand which recently went viral after gifting a woman a new car. The woman’s own car had burnt down, but in a TikTok video she showed that her insulated Stanley cup had survived the car fire and that the ice inside hadn’t even melted. 



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U.S. Judge Blocks Montana’s Effort to Ban TikTok in the State

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U.S. Judge Blocks Montana’s Effort to Ban TikTok in the State

TikTok has won another reprieve in the U.S., with a District Judge blocking Montana’s effort to ban the app for all users in the state.

Back in May, Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed legislation to ban TikTok outright from operating in the state, in order to protect residents from alleged intelligence gathering by China. There’s no definitive evidence that TikTok is, or has participated in such, but Gianforte opted to move to a full ban, going further than the Government device bans issued in other regions.

As explained by Gianforte at the time:

The Chinese Communist Party using TikTok to spy on Americans, violate their privacy, and collect their personal, private, and sensitive information is well-documented. Today, Montana takes the most decisive action of any state to protect Montanans’ private data and sensitive personal information from being harvested by the Chinese Communist Party.”

In response, a collection of TikTok users challenged the proposed ban, arguing that it violated their first amendment rights, which led to this latest court challenge, and District Court Judge Donald Molloy’s decision to stop Montana’s ban effort.

Montana’s TikTok ban had been set to go into effect from January 1st 2024.

In issuing a preliminary injunction to stop Montana from imposing a full ban on the app, Molloy said that Montana’s legislation does indeed violate the Constitution, and “oversteps state power”.

Molloy’s judgment is primarily centered on the fact that Montana has essentially sought to exercise foreign policy authority in enacting a TikTok ban, which is only enforceable by federal authorities. Molloy also noted that there was apervasive undertone of anti-Chinese sentiment” within Montana’s proposed legislation.

TikTok has welcomed the ruling, issuing a brief statement in response:

Montana attorney general, meanwhile, has said that it’s considering next steps to advance its proposed TikTok ban.

It’s a win for TikTok, though the Biden Administration is still weighing a full TikTok ban in the U.S., which may still happen, even though the process has been delayed by legal and legislative challenges.

As I’ve noted previously, my sense here would be that TikTok won’t be banned in the U.S. unless there’s a significant shift in U.S.-China relations, and that relationship is always somewhat tense, and volatile to a degree.

If the U.S. Government has new reason to be concerned, it may well move to ban the app. But doing so would be a significant step, and would prompt further response from the C.C.P.

Which is why I suspect that the U.S. Government won’t act, unless it feels that it has to. And right now, there’s no clear impetus to implement a ban, and stop a Chinese-owned company from operating in the region, purely because of its origin.

Which is the real crux of the issue here. A TikTok ban is not just banning a social media company, it’s blocking cross-border commerce, because the company is owned by China, which will remain the logic unless clear evidence arises that TikTok has been used as a vector for gathering information on U.S. citizens.

Banning a Chinese-owned app because its Chinese-owned is a statement, beyond concerns about a social app, and the U.S. is right to tread carefully in considering how such a move might impact other industries.

So right now, TikTok is not going to be banned, in Montana, or anywhere else in the U.S. But that could still change, very quickly.



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Israeli president tells Musk he has ‘huge role’ in anti-Semitism

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Elon Musk, the world's richest person, said in video remaks that Hamas militants 'have been fed propaganda'

Elon Musk, the world’s richest person, said in video remaks that Hamas militants ‘have been fed propaganda’ – Copyright POOL/AFP Leon Neal

Israel’s president told Elon Musk on Monday that the tech mogul has “a huge role to play” to combat anti-Semitism, which his social media platform is accused of spreading.

The meeting came after the world’s richest person visited a kibbutz community devastated in attacks by Hamas militants on October 7, and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defence officials.

Musk has been criticised over what critics say is a proliferation of hate speech on X, formerly Twitter, since his takeover of the social media site in October 2022.

He has been accused by the White House of “abhorrent promotion” of anti-Semitism after endorsing a conspiracy theory seen as accusing Jews of trying to weaken white majorities.

Israel’s figurehead President Isaac Herzog told him: “Unfortunately, we are inundated by anti-Semitism, which is Jew hatred.

“You have a huge role to play,” he said. “And I think we need to fight it together because on the platforms which you lead, unfortunately, there’s a harbouring of a lot of… anti-Semitism.”

Musk did not mention anti-Semitism in his video remarks released by Herzog’s office, but said Hamas militants “have been fed propaganda since they were children”.

“It’s remarkable what humans are capable of if they’re fed falsehoods, from when they are children; they will think that the murder of innocent people is a good thing.”

On October 7 Hamas militants broke through Gaza’s militarised border into southern Israel to kill around 1,200 people and seize about 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials, in the worst-ever attack since the nation’s founding.

Vowing to destroy Hamas in response, Israel has carried out a relentless bombardment of targets in Gaza, alongside a ground invasion, that the Hamas government says has killed almost 15,000.

A temporary truce has been in effect since Friday.

– Talk of satellites –

Earlier Monday, Netanyahu and Musk discussed “security aspects of artificial intelligence” with senior defence officials, the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Musk and Netanyahu held a conversation on X following their tour of Kfar Aza, one of the communities attacked by Hamas.

“We have to demilitarise Gaza after the destruction of Hamas,” Netanyahu said, calling for a campaign to “deradicalise” the Palestinian territory.

“Then we also have to rebuild Gaza, and I hope to have our Arab friends help in that context.”

Netanyahu told Musk he hoped to resume United States-mediated normalisation talks with Saudi Arabia after Hamas’s defeat and “expand the circle of peace beyond anything imaginable”.

The war stalled progress towards a Saudi-Israel normalisation deal, and in early November Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler denounced the conduct of Israeli forces fighting Hamas in Gaza.

Israel’s Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi said his country had reached an understanding in principle on the use of Starlink satellites, operated by Musk’s company SpaceX, in Israel and the Gaza Strip “with the approval of the Israeli Ministry of Communications”.

Starlink is a network of satellites in low Earth orbit that can provide internet to remote locations, or areas that have had normal communications infrastructure disabled.

In September, Netanyahu urged Musk “to stop not only anti-Semitism, or rolling it back as best you can, but any collective hatred” on X.

Musk said at the time that while his platform could not stop all hate speech before it was posted, he was “generally against attacking any group, no matter who it is”.

X Corp is currently suing nonprofit Media Matters on the grounds that it has driven away advertisers by portraying the site as rife with anti-Semitic content.

Musk has also threatened to file suit against the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish advocacy group, over its claims that problematic and racist speech has soared on the site since he completed his $44-billion takeover.

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